Councillors unanimously approve Hamilton Bulldogs move to Brantford civic centre

City councillors in Brantford, Ont., have given thumbs up to a Hamilton Bulldogs plan to relocate to their city next season.

In a unanimous vote, 11-0, city politicians accepted a multi-million dollar proposal that will not only see the municipality get an OHL team but much-needed upgrades to a local arena.

“Looks like our ‘hockey town’ is finally gonna get our,  like, ‘hockey team’ that we can all rally behind,” said coun. Rose Sicoli.

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“I can’t even lie, as a Hamilton-born girl, this is just a little extra special win for me.”

Both the City of Brantford and the Bulldogs will pour an estimated $7.5 million into the Market Street arena to facilitate a three-year agreement that offers three year-long renewals.

Brantford is on the hook for about $4.67 million including $1.63 million to install a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Read more: Brantford considers relocation agreement with OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs

The city’s total capital investment will be funded from a casino legacy reserve.

The current capacity of the Brantford and District Civic Centre, built in 1967, is 3,000 seats.

“Your unfortunate timing, was our incredible benefit,” coun. Brian VanTilborg said during a special council meeting Tuesday night.

“People were sending me messages … ‘Ryan, don’t screws this up, make sure we get the deal.'”

Renovations are expected to add some capacity as well as safety upgrades, larger player benches and a new video scoreboard.

Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer previously told Global News the venture is a “win-win” for him since it offers the opportunity to extend the brand to Brantford and provide a feasible alternative venue for players and fans in Hamilton who need to make a short drive.

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“When you consider that Brantford is literally a 20-minute drive from Ancaster High, where some of our players go to school or billet, … and then a lot of our fans actually live up on the Mountain, it creates a bit of a win-win situation,” Andlauer told 900 CHML’s Good Morning Hamilton in late January.

Coun. Dan McCreary characterized the venture as a deal with a professional organization led by “some pretty stellar folks” dead serious about coming to Brantford.

“The thing I like best is the influence you’re going to have on our young hockey players here,” said McCreary.

“They’re gonna to see where they can be in a couple years time playing in Brantford, hopefully, for the hometown team.”

Read more: Consortium president ‘hopeful and optimistic’ Bulldogs will be back after Hamilton redevelopment

Following Tuesday’s vote, the Bulldogs owner thanked Mayor Kevin Davis, council, and city staff for the support.

“Together, we have been able to make a home for the Bulldogs in a short and unexpected period of time,” he said in a statement.

Davis reciprocated thanking the Bulldogs for having “faith and confidence” in the city.

“Based on the community’s overwhelmingly positive reaction to this news so far, I’m very confident that the Bulldogs fanbase will grow substantially in Brantford,” Davis said in a statement.

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Hamilton consortium says Bulldogs will be ‘welcome back’ following multi-year arena redevelopment

Leaders of the private operator that’s taken over management of the Hamilton arena insist they want the Bulldogs to return to the city once the new facility opens.

Hamilton Urban Precinct Entertainment Group (HUPEG) president PJ Mercanti says the “most efficient way” of quickly completing the estimated $100 million upgrade is to vacate tenants since “working around existing activities” would slow the process down.

The timeline for the start and finish of the project is still not public, but likely to commence in late summer.

Specifics of the venue’s design, which enlists aid from the Oak View Group run by former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Tim Leiweke, are also not clear.

“We’ve got a long relationship … with the Bulldogs and their foundation,” Mercanti told Global News on Monday.

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“We’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for Mr. Andlauer and the Bulldogs, so we’re hopeful to be able to welcome them back to a newly renovated arena.”

Andlauer admits the Bulldogs’ future in Hamilton appears to be a bit cloudy telling 900 CHML’s Hamilton Today he has no lease or “nothing in writing” securing a return following the renovation.

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